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Greetings, and happy Korean Independence Day to you all.

Yesterday I came across a thread here where a guy wanted input on his Real Madrid tactic and I thought I'd try to replicate a very fancied tactic these days, the midfield crowded 4-1-2-1-2 that Zinedine Zidane uses for the top matches. We don't need to go into a full blown wall of text on ZZ and Real, let's just say that this tactic is one of three or four you'll see him use over the course of a season. We should add that Real Madrid is the most lethal counter attacking team today and this should absolutely be a part of our arsenal.

The tactic itself relies heavily on the two wingbacks to provide width and provide crosses/passes; as evidenced in the annihilation of the rock solid Juventus in the CL final. 3 of the 4 goals came from Carvajal/Marcelo directly or indirectly. Furthermore, ZZ has removed all fancy play syndrome from the squad and instead uses a very pragmatic and straight forward approach. That means there are no playmaker roles in midfield; instead the passing play is quick and in a forward direction, with zero dallying on the ball. For instance, Marcelo had 89 touches in the Madrileno Derbi, more than any other player, including Kroos.

The whole idea of this tactic is to have bodies in central areas, both going forward and defending. Should be well suited to the current ME, no? Let's have a look at those stats from Opta and 11tegen11:
Image to the left is against Barca in the Spanish SC some days ago. Center image is the match against United and to the right is the image of the official submitted team pre game.

5992826229e09_realvsbarca.thumb.png.924d6542774e0763336788bd4c8abdc3.png5992832cc5a3a_realvsunited.thumb.png.c102d234cfb0474ead6ad0398a759388.png599283528829d_realtaktikkbarca.thumb.png.1a0ee47c2ec787a7b38e520b208749cf.png

As you can see by the REAL stats there is only one striker at any given time. Against United it was Bale, against Barca it was Benzema. Isco drops deep(er) and helps the team when out of possession and links up with the attack in possession. An Isco heatmap will show that he plays slightly on the lefthand side, somewhat withdrawn from the two attackers.

Let's have a look at how this translates into FM17:

5992ee0a3766f_realfm.thumb.png.009d524a9b51074cd9c3fcd59f578c9d.png5992ee74aa74e_realfmasensio.thumb.png.5edc0615264fdd3877ee0be6b783e7ce.png

Mentality: Unpopular answer; it depends. The default setting is counter, but like real life we are very flexible and likely to change during a match. I can go to control or attack, depending on the opposition. IRL, when using this RM plays with low risk.

Shape: Like above, likely to change. When starting out in control we always play fluid. The thing is that being Real a lot of teams will come with a very defensive outlook, or a counter attacking setup. In these instances there is no point in going super compact (fluid), as you'll be closed down and blocked 95% of the time. In these cases we go highly structured and we can change the mentality to control or attack (take more risks).

Roles, duties, team instructions and player instructions:

GK: Standard, with PI's 'fewer risky passes', 'distribute to CBs'.
CWBs: These are your most important roles in order for this to work and the roles are self explanatory. Added PI's: 'tighter marking', 'fewer risky passes'.
CD-Co: The Varane role. On cover as his overall quickness is superior to that of Ramos. 'Mark tighter'.
BPD-De: The Ramos role. The born leader and distributor from the back. 'Mark tighter'.

CM-Su: The Modric role, on the right side of the three midfielders. Technical, hard worker with PPMs 'Dictates tempo' and 'Switch to other flank'. His only PI is 'mark tighter'.
CM-De: Casemiro. The best DM in the world at the moment, a physical enforcer with good technical abilities, albeit not in the Kroos/Modric class. PIs 'mark tighter' and 'fewer risky passes'. PPMs 'simple passes'.
CM-Su: Kroos. We give him slightly more passing freedom than the other two. He will launch some wicked counters when we add 'more risky passes'. He is also on 'tighter marking'.

SS-At: Now it's get sticky. This is first and foremost Bales role in a normal setup. It can also be Asensio, Benzema or Ronaldo. Bale PPMs: 'Run w/ball often', 'shoot from distance' and 'knocks ball past opp' ++. Add 'tight marking' and 'roam' to get that Bale free running style.
DLF-Su: Benzema, Ronaldo or Bale, in that order. CR will score for fun here, but you will not get that link-up play that Benz offers with 'plays one-twos'. No added PIs.
AM-Su/AP-Su: The role that Isco made his own and sent James packing. Asensio and CR/Bale/Benz can also play here. When AP, use PI 'sit narrower'. When AM, use 'roam\, 'channels' and 'mark tighter'. We need him to track back.

The Isco role is by far the most difficult one to replicate. It is most correct when using him as an AP out wide, with sit narrower PI. Then he will link up nicely with Marcelo and the DLF. The heatmaps below illustrates it better:
Leftmost image is Isco against United in the ESC last week and the right one is in-game against Barcelona in the league:
599287e8ac5da_iscoheatmap.png.c3dc3f884e4b84bdaa618d53fc8ac6fb.png5992f76f97acf_Iscoheatmapingame.thumb.png.49ef04f4a3beaa9abec1b20c5a11b687.png

The team instructions are few. The only ones that are absolutely set in stone are 'dribble less' and 'closing down sometimes'. Too much closing down will pull the midfield all over the place. Less dribbling goes into the whole directness of the system. I normally use shorter passing and then change it up once in a while with mixed.

If you want to see some devastating counter attacks, try highly structured on attack and pull the d-line all the way back. It's probably not sustainable for a full 90 mins, but against the likes of Barca it's extremely efficient once in a while.


How did it work?

Too well :D I fired up a single league save and used the current squad, no signings and no sales. I have also had a fair share of luck; no major injuries (zero injuries to Bale), Navas saved a few pens late on in two games, there seems to be a good amount of goals from set pieces using this system. Other than that it looks extremely solid. Will not work with any other team as you rely a lot on having three world class players up top though.

5993001e8dbd0_ligafix.thumb.png.7226994d527174826b805db3c0a08a60.png5993002bedd67_cupfix.thumb.png.0c0057b8f444b309015790b0357ffe0d.pngtballe.thumb.png.f3bc871e1246a05fcfe4e4a6505f581b.png

 

Sorry for the long post, they always become so friggin long when you are dead set on making a to-the-point type OP. Hope you enjoy it and maybe take something from this.

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Definitely going to take a few principles in this thread and apply them to my Southampton save. I've also read your Jose Mourinho Inter recreation which was brilliant too.  I've got a few questions: 

- I'm intrigued by the use of 'dribble less'; Real have a lot of talented dribblers so how did using this ti affect them? Also, did it induce the direct passing focus you wanted from this tactic?

- What were your typical possesion stats? (Roughly) how many goals did you score on the counter? Using counter + fluid + shorter passing and leaving the tempo at normal gives the impression of quite a laboured style. Were the roles and duties more important than the ti's?

- Seen as your only playmaker was in the AM strata, did you bypass the midfield a lot and go directly to him?

 

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9 hours ago, jc577 said:

- I'm intrigued by the use of 'dribble less'; Real have a lot of talented dribblers so how did using this ti affect them? Also, did it induce the direct passing focus you wanted from this tactic?

 

I found when playing fluid a lot of the time the team lost the ball by getting stuck and then being hit on the counter. The idea was to move the ball faster in the final third. Yes, I would say the passing was more direct.

 

9 hours ago, jc577 said:

- What were your typical possesion stats? (Roughly) how many goals did you score on the counter? Using counter + fluid + shorter passing and leaving the tempo at normal gives the impression of quite a laboured style. Were the roles and duties more important than the ti's?

 

Depending on mentality and shape. With counter/fluid we hit between 55 and 60% at home, around 50% away. In this setup, remember there is a slightly higher d-line, I would say around 35% of the goals came from transitions. When playing attacking/highly structured, a lot more. Roles and duties more important, yes.

 

9 hours ago, jc577 said:

- Seen as your only playmaker was in the AM strata, did you bypass the midfield a lot and go directly to him?

 

Again depending on mentality/shape. Overall, my favorite way of playing is attacking/highly structured. In my answer to Rashidi you will see the difference.

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8 hours ago, Rashidi said:

You should post your Key Pass Combinations, so we can see how they look

This is from the home game against Girona. As you'd expect, they come to the Bernabeu in a defensive/counter setup, with both fullbacks on defend duty and one DM:

599398834ffdf_gironalineup.thumb.png.6ce377c0e9fa810739576f68b57e8640.png

For this match we go attack/highly structured from the start. The aim is to draw them in and the hit them on the counter, so we lower the d-line all the way back and add 'pass into space'. We also add 'shorter passing' to mitigate the directness of an attacking mentality slightly.

Key passes for this game:

59939a8d3de8a_keypassgirona.thumb.png.77dfa1aa6ee3f3d95d5d088097aa6570.png5993a2c1d4ddf_krooskeypass.thumb.png.dd7991b1c60e4c97e1cdb0209d8ec7e7.png5993a35b64e76_krooskeypass2.thumb.png.7d38d1067fbb1267e3b7982065c51084.png
Key passes from a Valencia game, control/fluid.

5993a4774065b_ronaldoassistvalencia.thumb.png.9d85586497ff38fee1514a7d3a23fe28.png5993a48f006e5_ronaldokeypass.thumb.png.4b9abc8f18d965c8409ca7ed549f85a5.png

 

First vid here is Kroos to Ronaldo, inexplicable miss. Second is again Kroos, this time to Bale, again inexplicable miss. Below a vid from the Sevilla game, where we use counter/fluid, mixed passing:

Bale to Ronaldo, goal.

Against Valencia, against an established defence, Ronaldo drops and lays it off to Ceballos, goal. Marcelino goes into a deep depression on the touchline.

 

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KPIs.thumb.jpg.e2b1c68ff13517f94787375aecde458f.jpg

 

This is the Key Pass Combinations I was talking about and you used Key passes from your two sources, but you didn't show how the KPC from the game looked like in comparison to those you linked from your sources.

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Wow, I didn't even know that screen was there in FM.

Here is from using counter/fluid:

59951dfe734d8_passcombo3.thumb.png.bdf154ef559a96deaeabbcef834f2823.png

59951e776e53a_passcombo4.thumb.png.abcde4469951217303fcbc14177b54ed.png

Attack/highly structured:

59951d3fe1a06_passcombo2.thumb.png.3a2a6e0638af57e47fb5fcbde851d1d8.png

Edited by Ji-Sung Park

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Great thread, thank you. It's threads like these that help me understand a) what an in depth, amazing game fm is and b) why I'm not very good at it :)

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On 15/8/2017 at 16:09, Ji-Sung Park said:

The team instructions are few. The only ones that are absolutely set in stone are 'dribble less' and 'closing down sometimes'. Too much closing down will pull the midfield all over the place. Less dribbling goes into the whole directness of the system. I normally use shorter passing and then change it up once in a while with mixed.

When you see the shot statistics from the games, they usually have 85%+ of their finishes within the box. Would this not suggest "Work ball into the box"? Even with Real Madrid, in FM, they will take a lot of long shots without it. Am I missing something?

Also.....i'm finding them, attacking, and defending as a unit. So I see them as a 'Very Fluid' side, rather than a 'Highly Structured'. Is this option to compensate for FM ME, or is it as you see them play?

Edited by Brasmuss

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10 hours ago, Brasmuss said:

When you see the shot statistics from the games, they usually have 85%+ of their finishes within the box. Would this not suggest "Work ball into the box"? Even with Real Madrid, in FM, they will take a lot of long shots without it. Am I missing something?

Also.....i'm finding them, attacking, and defending as a unit. So I see them as a 'Very Fluid' side, rather than a 'Highly Structured'. Is this option to compensate for FM ME, or is it as you see them play?

Could simply be that the system as it stands tends to get players into the box as well though.  Depending on who I am playing (I don't often use Work ball into Box) I can get games where most of my shots still come inside the box.  I find leaving it unchecked gets me a bit more crossing action as I tend to have my FBs overload a fair bit.

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On 8/16/2017 at 13:02, Rashidi said:

KPIs.thumb.jpg.e2b1c68ff13517f94787375aecde458f.jpg

 

This is the Key Pass Combinations I was talking about and you used Key passes from your two sources, but you didn't show how the KPC from the game looked like in comparison to those you linked from your sources.

I'm still in need of work in improving my analysis of game data for stuff like this.  What exactly is this showing?
Basically looking at which passes the game claimed as being "key" passes complete with the where the passes happened and who was involved on both ends of the pass?

 

Edit; Whoops, sorry for double post!

Edited by alanschu14

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I've done a video on How to use Stazone and a video on how to beat united's 4231 both explain how I use it and what it does

 

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1 hour ago, Rashidi said:

I've done a video on How to use Stazone and a video on how to beat united's 4231 both explain how I use it and what it does

 

Awesome thanks.  I haven't delved too much into checking out videos yet but the FM addiction is still growing in me so....

I'll check out the link in your bio!

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Great post, I love reading about recreations of contemporary tactics and this is a good one. I noticed you gave pretty much every player "Mark Tighter". What's the though behind this? And why not use the TI instead?

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On 24.8.2017 at 12:21, Brasmuss said:

When you see the shot statistics from the games, they usually have 85%+ of their finishes within the box. Would this not suggest "Work ball into the box"? Even with Real Madrid, in FM, they will take a lot of long shots without it. Am I missing something?

 

I never really checked that beforehand, it is probably a very good point. In FM, if the tactic is adequate, I find you'll score goals in all manners (unless you specifically exploit the ME). I have since scrapped this save, but if I ever start again I would try "wbitb".

On 24.8.2017 at 12:21, Brasmuss said:

Also.....i'm finding them, attacking, and defending as a unit. So I see them as a 'Very Fluid' side, rather than a 'Highly Structured'. Is this option to compensate for FM ME, or is it as you see them play?

80% of the season were 'very fluid'. However, as things progressed just about all teams played 80 minutes+ very defensively. I tried out highly structured on 'standard', 'control' and 'attacking'. The weakness of the tactic was evident when facing teams like Athletic Bilbao, who used a 3-6-1, with a lot of bodies in defensive midfield. In a very fluid setting, it became to easy for them to cancel us out. Even when I was 1-0 up at home they'd continue in a defensive fashion only to change outlook with 5 mins remaining. 

IRL, I see them as very compact, very direct (or more so than in the past) and highly pragmatic. By that I mean straight to the point, but still having outstanding individual players in each position. If you look at goals scored over the last 18 months you'll find a lot direct football leading up to the goals. 

On 25.8.2017 at 18:01, TheJanitor said:

Great post, I love reading about recreations of contemporary tactics and this is a good one. I noticed you gave pretty much every player "Mark Tighter". What's the though behind this? And why not use the TI instead?

Just an old habit, I am sure it could work either way.

The tough part I found was the movement of the front 3. Let's say Isco, Benz and Bale. Maybe a standard diamond (4-1-2-1-2) with one of the strikers on man marking or something could get it even closer. 

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